As a teacher, I may no longer be the sole source of knowledge within a classroom, but I will still hold responsibility for validity of the information that is imparted by the technology I employ. While I look forward to the increase in the data validity of online text books, as the revisal of outdated information is now fast and cheap, I am very aware that not all data available online is accurate (The New York Times, 2008).
Students require the skills to determine the credibility of the information they encounter, both online and elsewhere. In the digital age, information no longer reaches the classroom through the filter of an editor and subsequent selection by an education professional (Department of Education and Children’s Services, 2004, p. 9). Instead, free online publishing allows unvalidated opinions to reach the classroom computer unchecked. Therefore, I must teach my students to critically assess the information they receive, prior to their accepting it as fact.
Within the classroom, I envisage providing my students with an online research assignment on a spoof animal, for example the little known Tree Octopus (Zapato, n.d.). This will serve as an introduction to a dialogue on the critical assessment of information, from all sources.
The CARS acronym is a useful tool for educating students about data validity (Harris, n.d.):
- Credibility – who is the author? What is the source? Is it from an edited or well respected publication?
- Accuracy – when was it written? Is it detailed and factual?
- Reasonableness – is it balanced and objective? Is there a conflict of interest?
- Support – are there references? Do other sources corroborate it?
I have created a Pinterest board to display various types of digital information available on the internet. Most examples include a comment about the data validity of the source.
Brennabk. (2010, 2 December). Michael Scott Wikipedia [Image]. Retrieved from http://brennabk.tumblr.com/
Department of Education and Children’s Services. (2004). Choosing and using teaching and learning materials. Hindmarsh, South Australia: Gillingham Printers. Retrieved from: http://www.decd.sa.gov.au/policy/files/links/Choose_use_booklet_FA.pdf
Harris, R. (n.d.). Assessing the validity of online information. Retrieved from https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CD0QFjAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.purdue.edu%2Fhr%2Fdoc%2FOnlineResourceValidity.doc&ei=Qq5lU7jECYqqkgXuoIGgBg&usg=AFQjCNF1s9GLSlVnoE6fYDba7q5vUC292w&sig2=6MlXJ2W-6vpjIzylPdPIAw&bvm=bv.65788261,d.dGI&cad=rja
The New York Times. (2008, 25 April). That book costs how much? [Editorial]. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/opinion/25fri4.html?_r=0
Zapato, L. (n.d.) The Pacific Northwest tree octopus. Retrieved from http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/